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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

ARREST AND TRIAL                          177

"Benevolence and righteousness are the great avenues,
Poetry and history are the stepping-stones.
They show of? their flowing belts to each other
And sing oĢ the wheat's shining green.
Thanks for your exhibition oĢ rotten mice.
But the high-flying crane dives into the clouds.
You don't have to wake me up from my madness;
I shall be sober when I wake up from the drink."

The first three lines refer to the scholar hypocrites who talk of benevo-
lence and righteousness as avenues of official promption and deride
them for being proud of their official pomp. The reference to the
"wheat's shining green" is, according to Su Tungpo, a reference to a
l^oem in the Boo\ of Chuangtse about officials who sought honour in
their lifetime and were buried with pearls in their mouths, but in time
their graveyards became wheat-fields. The fifth line contains another
reference to Chuangtse. On being offered a high post by the king of
Ģis country, Chuangtse declined it and tqld the official messenger the
following story: There were some carrion crows who had caught dead
rotten mice and were making a feast on a tree. A ci-ane (symbol of the
pure and retired scholar) happened to fly by, and thinking that the
crane was going to deprive them of the feast of mice, the crows
screeched to frighten it away, but the noble bird flew on up to the
ffflbuds. The moral of this story was that Su had a haughty contempt
for the petty squabbles for power among the politicians,

I have the feeling that Su Tungpo thought it rather wonderful to be
arrested and tried for writing poetry. He must have enjoyed lecturing
the court on the literary references.

It was, therefore, well established that Su Tungpo had been highly
disrespectful to the government. He had compared those in power to
croaking frogs, to chirping cicadas, to owls, to black crows feeding on
rotten mice, and to common fowl in a poultry yard. More unbearable
was his reference to "monkeys who were given baths arid caps'* to look
like human beings. It all amounted to this: Su Tungpo did not think
very much of people like Sudan and Leeding, so why should Sudan
and Leeding think well of Su Tungpo?

The trial was concluded, probably, at the beginning of October, and
the testimony submitted to the Emperor. A great many persons were
involved, particularly Prince Wang Shien, who had, as was brought put
in the course of the trial, exchanged various gifts and presents with the
poet. The Emperoi ordered that all those who had exchanged poems
with Su Tungpo should submit poems in their possession for examina-
tion by the court.

Meanwhile, Emperor Jentsung's wife, who had always stood up for